This studying abroad experience has really expanded my knowledge on other cultures. For this exercise I decided to speak with a professor, Marien, at the Universitat de Barcelona about Spain’s culture. I chose to speak with her after finding out that she is actually a family member of my father’s friend from home. We met in front of UB one afternoon and walked to a little café to get coffee and discuss more about each other and our cultural differences. This meeting was important for me because I was able to learn more about Spain’s culture from a local and to expand my knowledge of the city that I am currently living in.
Discussing with Marien about her culture caused me to reflect some more about my own. “Exposures to a new culture causes many people to explore value systems for the first time; discoveries often lead to reexamining the foundation of their own ethical structures” (Hess 47). One of the topics that Marien and I first discussed was the cultural concept of youth versus age. In America, young people seem to be more appreciated in our society, however, in Spain, elders are treated with the most respect. Marien explained the importance of respecting our elders here in Spain and how important that is in their culture. I have noticed that high level of respect here for elders. Whenever I am on the metro, I always see younger people giving up their seats for older people to sit down. I have also noticed that when going to class, students do not enter the classrooms before the teachers arrive. It is nice to see the high level or respect that Spaniards have for their elders.
Marien and I also discussed independence and dependence. In America, the norm is to go to school, get a degree, move out of our parents’ house, and find an apartment to start living on our own. In Spain it is different. They really value family here, and it is possible that you could be living with your mother throughout adulthood. If Spaniards are no longer living at home, they still often gather for family lunches or dinners. Although in the United States we may find it unhealthy to be so dependent on our family, here they really value family and support one another. Marien and I talked about spiritual growth and it seems that it is something very important here in Spain too. Money is not everything here and spiritual growth is valued.
Throughout my conversation with Marien I felt appreciative to be sitting in a café, in Barcelona, learning more about the Spanish culture that I have always been interested in. We learned not only more about each other, but also of our different backgrounds. Sitting down with Marien opened up my mind more and made me realize that there are probably other groups at home that I could learn more from. For example, Greek life has become a big part of Quinnipiac’s campus, and I have never thought to join or interact with many people in a sorority or fraternity. Although I do not have the desire to join a sorority, I think sitting down with a person who is in one and discussing their values of a sorority would be a positive experience. I am sure that I could learn a lot more about their community and what the value of their sorority is to them. I think if I sat down with a representative of a sorority we could learn a few things from each other about our different views.
Since I do not have a picture with Marien to post, I decided to include this photo here that I took when I was in Valencia, Spain this past weekend. My friends and I toured a museum and I found this artwork particularly beautiful. This portrays the older, ancient times of Spain’s history. This artwork shows more of the Spanish culture and the impact of religion on their society.